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When Time Is Running Out

Yes, you should always be willing to sacrifice some difficult, time consuming questions to buy yourself time to spend on the other ones. But never be afraid to guess. As Wayne Gretzky said, you miss 100 percent of the questions you don't answer.

In The SAT: Never Sacrifice Accuracy for Speed, I said that you should never sacrifice accuracy for speed. Okay, here's the only exception to that RocketRule: in the final seconds of any section, take whatever buzzer shot guesses you can.

A buzzer shot in basketball is one taken in absolute desperation, flung in the remaining seconds of a game in the wild hope that it just might go in. After all, there's nothing to lose at that point. And amazingly, enough of those wild shots go in to justify taking them.

You'll probably be in the same situation on the SAT at the end of every section. You'll be left with half a minute or less remaining; not enough time to solve a problem, but more than enough time to make a good guess or two.

Remember: every blank you leave is 10 points deducted from your 2400 starting score, and you're trying to hold on to as many of those points as possible. Some of your buzzer shots may miss, but even when they do they cost you only 2 to 3 points more than the blanks would have cost you anyway. So go for it.

In sum, until the final seconds of any section—say, the last 15 to 30 seconds—you maintain accuracy at all costs. As the final countdown begins, when there's not enough time to solve any more problems, go for broke and take any good guesses you can. When we get to the different question types, I'll show you ways to improve your odds when the time comes.

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From The RocketReview Revolution: The Ultimate Guide to the New SAT and the PSAT by Adam Robinson. Copyright © 2005. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

If you'd like to buy this book, click here.


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